Private is better? Prove it | Jan. 26, editorial
Invitation to political corruption
I can think of few things as morally reprehensible as the idea of prisons for profit.
I implore our legislators and governor to learn the lessons from what happened just a few years ago in Luzerne County, Pa. Two judges there were convicted of enriching themselves by taking kickbacks for sending minors to a for-profit juvenile detention center. Is this what we want in Florida?
The corruption inherent in such a system is already being demonstrated by the senators who are trying to force this horrible legislation through by circumventing our Sunshine rules. SB 2038 and 2036 must be relegated to the trash bin they were created in.
Stuart Berger, Clearwater
PIP reform plan gains more support | Jan. 26
Insurers making plenty
Why are Florida's legislators obsessed with reforming PIP benefits? The governor says attorneys are taking advantage of the public to the tune of $1 billion a year, according to the Tampa Bay Times. We are told that fraudulent claims and staged accidents have caused car insurance rates to skyrocket.
If this is true, why is it that every single day dozens of commercials are being run on Florida television stations by major insurance companies, each claiming to be able to write automobile insurance cheaper than their competitors? If automobile insurers are having it so tough making money with PIP as it is, why are all these companies fighting like cats and dogs to write more of it?
Now our governor wants to pass legislation that requires injured parties in an automobile accident to first be treated in a hospital emergency room. Restricting the rights of honest citizens to deal with their own physician is not necessary to deal with this problem.
And requiring people to see a physician within 72 hours is another bit of nonsense. An injured person may delay medical treatment for any of a number of legitimate reasons. Is such a person to have a claim for damages disallowed just to satisfy the whims of this Legislature and governor in their attempt to help profitable automobile insurers to make even more money?
Merrill Friend, Tampa
The hosts of the debates continue to ask questions that seem not to be germane to the vetting of the candidates. Two from Thursday immediately come to mind:
1. State why your wife would be the best first lady. I thought we were electing a president, not a first lady.
2. Do you favor statehood for Puerto Rico? Did the questioner not know that Puerto Rico has rejected becoming a U.S. state three times, in 1967, 1993 and 1998?
And why would they want to? As it now stands they receive many benefits as citizens but most are exempt from federal income tax. They do pay into Social Security and Medicare. Where is the incentive to become state No. 51?
Robert E. Streich, Ocala
Study lauds role of early education in preparing poor students | Jan. 23
Early care pays dividends
I applaud the Tampa Bay Times for making this long-running child care study about the benefits of high-quality early childhood education (please, not "day care" as written in article), known as the Abecedarian Project, available to your readers.
If we want to improve the rankings of schools, it is important to properly finance early childhood education, where the foundation for learning begins.
In Florida, funding for early childhood education continues to decrease. There is concern among advocates for quality early childhood education that this trend could continue this legislative session, leaving a heavy burden on programs that work hard to provide quality learning communities for children and their families.
I remain hopeful that studies like the Abecedarian Project will help legislators see the value of investing in early childhood education.
Mona Jackson, board member, Pinellas Advocates for Children and Families Inc., Seminole
Immigrants help power economy | Jan. 27, commentary
Drain on the taxpayers
Kelly Kirschner gives us statistics about the impact illegal immigrants have on our agricultural industry but fails to state the impact illegal immigrants have on our health care, welfare and food stamps. I'll wager that these illegal immigrants are receiving subsidies that far exceed the agricultural profits to the states.
If the giant agriculture businesses would pay a decent wage to U.S. citizens, we would not be in the mess that is straining our economy.
Frederick Greene, Pinellas Park
Hate the attacks? Blame the PACs | Jan. 27
Greedy for PAC dollars
Hateful political ads, which all too often distort the truth, will only disappear when the media exercises its civic and moral responsibility and rejects running them.
While the First Amendment guarantees the right of those who wish to generate those ads, including PACs, there is no requirement that the media accept them. Rather, the media — either as individual corporations or as an industry — can self-regulate and determine to only accept political ads that are factual and respectful.
Only its greed for those PAC dollars prevents the media from acting.
Larry Silver, Oldsmar
Progress stalls Levy plan | Jan. 26
Outrages pile up
So the spokeswoman for Progress Energy does not want to reveal "details about what items the utility purchased, citing confidentiality." Incredible. Last I checked, this is a public utility, not the Iranian government. Has it been taken over by the mullahs? Are they stonewalling on nuclear weapons capabilities? Nothing would surprise me any more.
Please stay on these stories. It's outrageous.
Michael J. Mendelsohn, Tampa